NZIFF is thrilled to close its programme in Auckland with the world premiere screening of the latest film by Tearepa Kahi (Poi E: The Story of Our Song, NZIFF16), a timely and affectionate tribute to iconic Aotearoa band Herbs.
Almost forty years after their first gig as the support act to Stevie Wonder, Kahi connects with core Herbs members as they reunite in preparation for an anniversary concert. Set against a soundtrack rich with the band’s popular songs, the documentary traces Herbs’ backstory and brings it up to date.
Kahi gives founder Toni Fonoti, guitarist Dilworth Karaka and producer Hugh Lynn (among others) ample room to recall Herbs’ creation and formation. With its unique mix of Māori, Pākehā and Pasifika musicians, Herbs had shifting iterations, at one point growing to twenty-three members.
Interviews, past and present, loop us back to social and political flashpoints, including the occupation of Bastion Point, the 1981 Springbok tour demonstrations, and the dawn raids targeting the Polynesian community. Reminiscences interweave with rehearsals and the concert itself, celebrating songs which harbour strong political messages within superb harmonies and distinctive South Pacific-infused rhythms. Their power and appeal remain undiminished.
We, and the ‘next generation’ of such concern to Toni ‘the originator’ and Dilworth ‘the cornerstone’, are grateful that Kahi had the foresight to make this rousing film when he did, thereby capturing later band members Thom Nepia, Carl Perkins and Tama Renata (who all died in 2018) in action and rocking the house.
For the full NZIFF programme visit nziff.co.nz